A salvage team has boarded the drifting Eeemslift Hendrika off the west coast of Norway in an attempt to rig a towing line to the vessel to prevent it from grounding, which could happen in a matter of hours, the Norwegian Coastal Administration said in an update.
Earlier, plans to board the abandoned heavy lift vessel had been postponed until Thursday due weather and drift models that showed a low risk of grounding. With new models, combined with a more favorable weather window than previously expected, crews will make an attempt to rescue the ship tonight.
“Conditions have changed during the afternoon and evening, and we are concerned that the vessel does not follow the runway on which the original plan was based,” said emergency director HansPetter Mortensholm in a statement translated from Norwegian. “We are therefore taking government action now, so that we have the opportunity to tow the casualty. At the same time, we are preparing for a worstcase scenario where we get a grounding,”
At the time of last update, the vessel was located only about only about ten nautical miles to land and drifting directly towards shore in Stadtlandet at a speed of approx. 1.5 knots, meaning a grounding could occur within “about 8 hours,” the Coastal Administration said. All oil spill response resources in the area have been mobilized.
The Eemslift Hendrika has been adrift since Monday after its crew sent a distress signal after the vessel lost stability in the Norwegian Sea approximately 60 nautical miles west of Ålesund. All twelve crew members were evacuated by Monday evening over fears the ship could sink, including four in survival suits who were forced to enter the water for rescue by helicopter.
SMIT Salvage has been hired to salvage the vessel. The company has two tugs on scene, the BB Ocean and Normand Drott. The plan is to send a team on board the drifting vessel by helicopter to attached a tow wire. Earlier in the day, heavy weather was preventing them from boarding and the operation was supposed to be delayed until Thursday.
The Norwegian Coast Administration previously reported that current drift calculations indicated the risk of the ship running aground is low. The ship’s position and track can been seen in the graphic below using AIS data provided by Spire Maritime.
In addition to cargo both above and below deck, on board is approximately 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel. A green workboat that was previously on deck has already been lost, but was spotted in the area still afloat.
“Life and health are always the first priority during an incident like this, and it must be safe to carry out the rescue,” said Mortensholm in an update from earlier today.
Built in 2015, Eemslift Hendrika is a yacht transport ship operated by Monacobased Starclass Yacht Transport. AIS data shows the ship departed Bremerhaven, Germany on March 4 with a destination of Kolvereid, Norway.
An updated video of the vessel is below:
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